Can I Wash Silk with Dawn Dish Soap? Mistakes To Avoid

I love wearing silk. The smooth, luxurious fabric feels so nice against my skin. But keeping my silk clothes and accessories clean can be a challenge.

Silk is extremely delicate and needs special care when washing. So can you safely wash silk with regular dish soap like Dawn? I did some research to find out.

In this article, I’ll explore using Dawn on silk fabrics and provide some handy care tips. My goal is to help you keep your silky items fresh and dirt-free without causing damage.

Let’s start by understanding why silk needs gentle cleaning.

washing silk with dawn

Understanding Silk Fabric

Silk has a delicate protein fiber that can easily be damaged by harsh detergents and aggressive washing methods. Here are some key facts about caring for silk:

  • Silk is very prone to color bleeding and fading. Detergents need to be dye-free and gentle.
  • Heat and abrasion can cause silk fibers to stretch and distort. Wash in cool water using a gentle cycle.
  • Silk creases easily. Avoid twisting, wringing, or crushing silk when wet.

The bottom line? You need a mild, silk-safe cleaner to wash this fabric. So how does Dawn dish soap measure up? Let’s find out.

Dawn Dish Soap: A Safe Option for Silk?

Dawn dish soap is designed to cut through tough grease on dishes. Here are some of its key properties:

  • Contains surfactants that penetrate and dissolve oils. Great for dishes, but could strip natural oils from silk.
  • Usually dyed blue. Could potentially bleed onto light silks.
  • Foams a lot. Foam can be abrasive to delicate silk fibers.

Based on these factors, Dawn may be too harsh for silk fabric. It’s not formulated to be a gentle laundry detergent. Now let’s compare Dawn to better silk wash options.

hand cleaning silk material in basin

What Soap Can You Use to Wash Silk?

Specialized silk soaps and detergents are ideal. Here’s how Dawn stacks up:

  • Dawn – cuts grease, high foam, dyed
  • Woolite – gentle cleaners, no bleach, low foam
  • Soak – natural, plant-based, silk-safe
  • Hair shampoo – mild, free of dyes/fragrances

The key is finding a detergent without additives that could damage silk. Simple, natural soaps are best. Next, let’s look at washing specific silk items.

My detailed review explores Tide’s effectiveness on silk fabrics.

Can You Wash Silk Pillowcases with Dawn?

Silk pillowcases need frequent washing to look their best. Here are some tips:

  • Use cool or lukewarm water – extreme temperatures can damage silk
  • Don’t scrub or twist – causes damage
  • Rinse thoroughly – removes all soap residue
  • Air dry flat – prevents creasing while drying
silk textile air dry method

I don’t recommend Dawn for silk pillowcases. It may strip the silk fibers over time. A better choice is a gentle shampoo or specialized silk wash.

The Best Silk Detergents for Delicate Care

When it comes to washing silk, using the right detergent makes all the difference. Here are some top options for keeping silk safely clean:

  • Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon) – My personal favorite! Specifically formulated for silks with natural, plant-based cleaners. Gets rid of odors and stains without fading dyes.
  • Woolite Delicates (link to Amazon) – Ultra gentle on fabrics like silk, wool, and linen. Contains no bleaches or brighteners that damage fibers. Low foaming formula.
  • Slip Silkwash (link to Amazon) – USDA-certified biodegradable formula infused with plant extracts. Produces rich, gentle lather that rinses clean.
  • The Laundress Silk Shampoo – Highly concentrated silk wash made with essential oils. Designed to maintain the vibrancy of silk without stripping oils.
  • Eucalan Delicate Wash – No-rinse formula with wheat protein and natural scent. Nourishes delicate fabrics during hand washing.
  • Soak Wash – Sensitive skin-friendly detergent for silk, wool, and fine washables. Free of dyes, optical brighteners, and phosphates.
silk fabrics cleaning with heritage park laundry detergent

Here’s a handy comparison of the top silk detergent contenders:

BrandKey FeaturesScentPrice
Heritage ParkPlant-based, specialized for silkLight floral$$
Woolite DelicatesNo bleaches or brightenersVery mild$
The Laundress Silk ShampooConcentrated, essential oilsLight jasmine$$$
Slip SilkwashUSDA certified, plant extractsLemongrass$$
Eucalan DelicateNo-rinse, wheat proteinVery mild$
Soak WashDye/phosphate/fragrance freeUnscented$

As you can see, there are excellent options available for safely washing your delicate silks. 

Pay attention to the formula and ingredients to choose the detergent that will best care for your fabrics.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Hand Washing Silk

Follow these guidelines to hand wash silk safely:


  • Check garment tags
  • Use cool, distilled water
  • Use a mild, silk-safe detergent
  • Gently swish, don’t rub
  • Rinse multiple times
  • Lay flat to dry on a towel


  • Wash in hot water
  • Use bleach or fabric softener
  • Twist, wring, or scrub silk
  • Leave wet for long periods
  • Put in the dryer

With the right techniques, you can hand wash silk at home without issues. Now let’s go over some other cleaning alternatives.

hand washing process for beige silk

Alternative Ways to Clean Silk

Don’t want to risk using Dawn or detergents on your silk? Here are some other options:

  • Vinegar rinse – Mix 1⁄4 cup white vinegar per 1 gallon of water. Rinse silk in solution.
  • Salt scrub – Make a paste with salt and cold water. Gently rub on stains.
  • Steaming – Hang the item in your bathroom during shower for light steaming.
  • Professional dry cleaning – Completely safe for all silks.

While effective, these may not fully clean silk items. Mild detergent is still best for thorough cleansing.

Can You Use Dawn in Washing Machines for Silk?

Here are my tips on machine washing silk:

  • Only wash durable silk items – avoid delicate fabrics
  • Use mesh laundry bags – prevents stretching
  • Wash on a delicate cycle with cool water
  • Add extra rinse cycles – removes soap residue
  • Line dry or dry flat
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine
using laundry mesh bag for machine washing silk

I don’t recommend Dawn for machine washing. A specialized detergent like Soak Silk is a better choice. It’s designed for use in washing machines.

Let’s move on to discuss how Dawn does with stain removal on silk fabrics.

Can Dawn Dish Soap Remove Stains from Silk?

Dawn is excellent at removing oils and greasy stains. But its high surfactant formula can be too harsh for silk. Here’s how it compares to other stain removers:

Dawn Dish SoapHair ShampooSilk Detergent
Stain Removal PowerStrongModerateStrong
Gentleness on SilkHarshVery GentleGentle

As you can see, Dawn may get out tough stains, but it could damage silk fabric in the process. I’d stick to gentler cleaners.

Uncover the results of using shampoo in my post on washing silk with shampoo.

visible stain on silk textile


After extensive research, here is my verdict on using Dawn dish soap to wash silk:

While Dawn is an effective grease cutter, it contains dyes and harsh detergents that make it too risky for delicate silk items.

Specialized silk detergents or mild shampoos are safer choices. They get silk thoroughly clean without stripping fibers or causing damage over time.

To recap, follow these tips when washing silk:

  • Check garment tags and wash gently by hand if needed
  • Use cool water and avoid heat
  • Select a mild, silk-safe detergent without dyes
  • Rinse silk thoroughly after washing
  • Lay flat or hang to dry to prevent creasing

With the proper care, your silk clothes, sheets, and other items can stay looking beautiful wash after wash.

Never twist, wring, or scrub silk fabrics, and avoid products like Dawn dish soap that are too harsh.

Show your silk some TLC, and it will maintain its elegant drape and sensuous softness.

I hope these Dawn dish soap tips help you keep your silky fabrics sparkling clean while preventing damage. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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